October 1993

The Dangers of Illegal Child Labor

Author Affiliations

Department of Community Medicine Mount Sinai School of Medicine One Gustave L. Levy Pl New York, NY 10029

Am J Dis Child. 1993;147(10):1029-1030. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1993.02160340015002

Work is a major and, until now, an insufficiently appreciated contributor to the ongoing epidemic of childhood injury. Recent reports have documented that each year, work among children and adolescents accounts for more than 30000 injuries,1 20000 compensation claims,2 thousands of cases of permanent disability,3 and more than 100 deaths.4 Injuries include amputations, burns, scalds, scalpings, fractures, eye loss, and electrocutions. In addition, working children are exposed to toxins such as benzene (in pumping gasoline), pesticides (in lawn care and agriculture), and asbestos (in construction and maintenance work). These exposures increase the risk of developing leukemia, neurologic impairment, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Although precise data are lacking, the fraction of all adolescent injuries that are caused by work appears to be substantial. The estimated number of 15- to 19-year-olds killed each year at work (n=110)4 is comparable to the number who

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